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but only now did i finally do it

but only now i finally did it

The first one sounds preferable, but I honestly don't know why. What is the exact grammar behind that kind of positioning of the verbs? Another example of it is something like:

only in this school have I seen such things happen

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  • Only now and only then are normally followed by a verb in inverted form (and only in x place, as you say), but you can say It was only now that I finally did it. Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 16:16

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[a] but only now did i finally do it

[b] but only now i finally did it

Example (a) demonstrates a type of subject-auxiliary inversion called negative inversion.

Such an inversion happens when a sentence begins with certain types of expressions containing a negation.

At no time will Sam relax. - Negative inversion

In our example, only now is such an expression, and hence subject-auxiliary inversion is needed.

There are exceptions, i.e., some fronted expressions with negation do not cause an inversion. Details can be found in Wikipedia.

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